A legendary former Queenstown environmental and heritage crusader died this week.
Marygold Miller, 94, who’d retired in Blenheim, was a feisty three-term councillor who achieved a lot for Queenstown, in and out of council.
A founding member of the local historical society, Miller successfully led the charge against the then-council’s plan to demolish the old stone Stanley Street library, now home to the Citizens Advice Bureau.
From 1968, she served on the former Queenstown Borough Council during Warren Cooper’s first mayoral reign.
He used to call her and fellow councillor Nancy Williams ‘Flora’ and ‘Fauna’.
“They were real greenies - Marygold was probably a bit more into the historical stuff,” Cooper says.
Cooper didn’t always see eye-to- eye with Miller, “but she was very social and good fun, and there was no
Miller was strongly opposed to a consortium’s plan for a 10-storey hotel on the Queenstown Gardens’ Park Street reserve.
Friend Neil Clayton recalls as a councillor she tried to maintain an even-handed position, “so her husband Hugh virtually took over that campaign”.
The late Hugh Miller, who developed Queenstown’s Sunshine Bay, chaired the Guardians of the Reserve which successfully waged a nationwide campaign.
One environmental battle Marygold Miller eventually lost was the building of Queenstown’s Remarkables skifield.
According to legend, she said she’d lie in front of the first bulldozer if the skifield road was ever built.
But in 2000, however, she told Mountain Scene she’d been misquoted by a Sunday newspaper.
“Firstly, I would never get in front of a bulldozer - my husband drove bulldozers.
“Secondly, there were an awful lot of people in Queenstown who would love to have seen me do it.”
Miller was also a founding shareholder of Mountain Scene.
Miller campaigned tirelessly for a pedestrian crossing on a busy road outside her Blenheim rest-home – and won.
She officially opened the crossing just last month.
Cathy Miller, one of her five children, says: “She’s always been an inspiration to us.”
According to her death notice, “in true Marygold style, she has donated her body to science”.